We all know that a healthy diet is the key to a healthy mind and body, and there are some foods that are just so enriched with goodness that it would be a crime not to use them in your cooking. Here are our top foods to start stocking up your kitchen cupboards with.
The humble garlic clove, a member of the onion and leek family, is packed with a compound called allicin, which exhibits both antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Not only has garlic been used as a remedy for hundreds of years, but a 2007 study revealed that it can play a key role in reducing risk of heart disease. When cooking garlic, crush it finely for a stronger tasting dish.
As well as tasting delicious, oily fish are an excellent source of nutrients like vitamins A and D, which are essential for healthy bones and skins. But the most important benefit of oily fish is the long-chain omega-3 fats hidden within its flesh. Omega-3 is recommended as part of a heart healthy diet, since it is thought to prevent the blood from clotting and regulate heart rhythm. Salmon, mackerel and tuna are all examples of oily fish.
Tomatoes are a staple part of any salad, but did you know that they are also filled with cancer fighting compounds? Tomatoes contain a carotenoid called lycopene, which has been shown in trials to reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancer. Tomatoes are also rich in potassium, a mineral necessary for the heart, kidneys, and other organs to work normally. In fact, a single cup of tomato juice offers 534 milligrams of potassium!
If you went blackcurrant picking as a child you were actually enjoying one of the richest natural sources of vitamin C there is. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant, and may protect your cells against the effects of harmful free radicals. Studies have shown that blackcurrants can prevent or delay progression of many conditions, like heart disease, eye strain, ageing and even cancer. Take your children on a blackcurrant picking walk, and then bake up a tasty blackcurrant pie with their offerings.
People often avoid avocados because of their calorie content. Yes, it’s true that avocados are high in calories- 138 calories in half an avocado- but they are also brimming with nutrients. Avocados are filled with monounsaturated fat, the good type of fat that has been shown to lower cholesterol levels and your risk of heart disease. They are also an excellent source of lutein, a compound which works as an antioxidant. Include avocado in your salad or create a guacamole dip for a healthy yet satisfying snack.
You may have heard that brown rice is better for you than white, but do you know why? White rice is the result of a refining process, which involves stripping the grains making them lighter and faster to cook. But after the refining process, white rice has lost everything that makes it healthy, including fibre and other essential minerals. Substitute white rice for brown rice and you will immediately increase your intake of manganese, selenium and fibre- which helps lower your risk of colon cancer.